Mastersball

Fishing Deep in the AL
AL or Nothing
Written by Jason Mastrodonato   
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 08:39

Jose Iglesias is surely the shortstop of the future for the Boston Red Sox, but let’s clarify what exactly future means.

The 21-year-old is the youngest shortstop to wear a Red Sox uniform in 40 years. Some scouts have said he could win a Gold Glove in the major leagues right now. He’s a small, quick and agile Cuban defector with a great arm and a better glove.

But the bat is where the problem lies.

Boston’s No. 1 prospect has had a hard time figuring out the strike zone at the Triple-A level, as he admits. It’s a work in progress, certainly, but 17 strikeouts and two walks in 87 at-bats isn’t a great sign, and Iglesias had yet to pick up an extra-base hit in 24 games before his call-up.

“Triple A was a little bit of an adjustment for him,” manager Terry Francona said. “Coming here, if we wanted him to play every day, that might be a little bit of a stretch right now.’'

It would be a big stretch.

With Marco Scutaro on the 15-day disabled list nursing a strained oblique – something he thinks won’t be a long-lasting problem, but could keep him out as long as 6-8 weeks – the Sox would have liked to call up Yamaico Navarro, who spent some time with them last season, but he’s currently on the DL.

So Iglesias is only a short-term option, there simply to provide infield depth, a defensive switch or pinch running duties, as he did for starting shortstop Jed Lowrie Tuesday night.

The youngster has some speed though, and could be somewhat useful in picking up a steal or two while scoring some runs as a late-inning replacement. Just don’t go nuts trying to obtain him for now. He’s still at least a year away from being able to carry himself at the plate in the majors.

“We all think he’s got a really bright future here,” Francona said. “I don’t think right now is his time to be our starting shortstop,’’

It’s funny watching Francona and the Sox handle Daisuke Matsuzaka. Dice-K has been pushed back a few days, yet again this season, so that they wouldn’t have to watch him labor at Yankee Stadium this weekend.

Dice-K has long been a box of chocolates each time he takes the mound, sprinkling in a few gems along the way. But you have to wonder how long of a leash the right hander has. That combined with the struggles of John Lackey – who could no longer throw in the 90’s after the third inning during his last start, despite insisting he was fine – provides a need for a possible replacement in the rotation, perhaps sometime soon.

The most valuable guy of the bunch might be Felix Doubront, a young and talented left-hander who the Red Sox like so much they used in a bullpen role earlier this year though not at 100%. Doubront noted that he was at 80 percent when on the hill, yet continued to be effective and is now being stretched out as a starter with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Dourbont has some great stuff, signaled by his 11.9 K/9 with the PawSox this year and 8.1 K/9 over two levels last season. He might still need a few more weeks to get loose or before the Sox need him, but I would be shocked if he wasn’t starting with them sometime this summer.

When he was sent down, Francona said part of that reason was to have him available out of the rotation should they have a need, and Doubront could have some instant success on a high-scoring team.

Vin Mazzaro is back with the Royals, and here’s a scary thought: His first start with Triple-A Omaha this year was a 2 1/3 inning-affair that included five earned runs and seven walks. Vintage Mazzaro.

But, while his control has always been spotty, his strikeout potential continues to make Mazzaro an attractive option. His above-average slider has kept hitters off-balance at every level, but the former Athletic needs to sharpen up all his pitches and throw consistent strikes before making a jump to the next level.

Either way, he’s certainly worth a look while Bruce Chen is on the DL, and if he pitches well, Mazzaro could finally have himself a firm big-league job.

Alfredo Simon may very well be a murderer, and here at Mastersball, we have a very strict anti-killing policy. But Simon is being stretched out as a starter in the Orioles’ farm system and is at least worth a look in deeper AL-only formats.

He actually wasn’t bad as a starter in Triple-A back in 2008, going 7-2 with a 2.67 ERA. Simon's time before that wasn’t pretty, but he wasn’t regarded as much of a prospect. Now at 30 years of age, Simon is heading back to the Dominican for a few days to take care of his legal issues (he didn’t shoot anyone, he swears).

Simon should be back shortly and will resume throwing in the minors, but with the Orioles rotation, it wouldn’t be crazy to see him up with the club by mid-summer. Hey, stranger things have happened.

 

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